Part One of a three part series on slimming and health
“Oh my God,” are not the first words you want to hear from the nurse as she takes your blood pressure for a routine doctor visit. “Let me take it again, sometimes this new machine acts up.” “Is everything alright,” I asked swallowing my anxious dry mouth. “Let me see if the doctor can see you now, Mr. Lobaugh. Just relax,” she said with a stressed smile, like a stewardess might say as the oxygen masks are falling from above your seat. The doctor came in, took my blood pressure old school, stethoscope just below my bicep and the blood pressure pump from the wall. “Tom, please lie back and take a few deep breaths.”
With more anxiety my pitch went up as I asked, “What’s going on?” “Let’s relax a moment. Deep breaths, close your eyes. I don’t want you stroking out on me Tom,” he shared with compassion and great concern. “Have your days been under a lot of extra stress lately?” Come to think of it, the stress had increased at work and at home and I had fallen back into patterns of late at night stuffing of sweets and other comfort food to be satisfied; a trick of thinking being full is a peaceful easy feeling. My BP that morning was 181 over 115, weighed in at 256, and was having a headache and difficulty breathing. My snoring through the night, or during a nap, was keeping many people awake in the house, especially Kathy. Many night sweats due to high blood pressure and headaches were keeping me awake as well. It was stressful on our marriage and one of us usually ended up on the sofa. Doc said, “Tom you’ve got to loose the weight.”
Our minds are powerful and our bodies do whatever our minds tell them to do, and you know you are out of balance when the body, adjusting to the stuffing of food our mind needs to be fulfilled, takes over and the flesh cries out, every morning and evening “More sugar, more carbs, more of everything!” Had a goal at the beginning of 2009 of weighing 185 pounds with a 34” waist before the end of that year; it was the same weight when we married, and that good-looking guy in the tuxedo was inspiring. Two years later, sitting in the doctors office worried about stroking out, and feeling miserable about myself again, I wondered out loud, “When is there anymore time in the day to exercise, let alone eat right with all of the late meetings and long hours?” Walking back to the car with an increased prescription in blood pressure medicine to now twice a day ($150.00 a month with insurance), out of breath from the walk across the parking lot, nostalgic of those incredible years as a good athlete and shaking my head in disgust, I pulled my XXL shirt forward and away so it would hang loosely and mask the uncomfortable cling to my skin. I unbuttoned my size 40 pant (two sizes too small to mask the fat) so it would be easier to sit with my belly hanging over while driving home. I rubbed my aching knee from surgery in 2009 and remembered the surgeon saying, “You probably will never be able to run again, your knee is going to have to be replaced sometime soon, your weight all these years has just pounded that poor thing to death.” I climbed into the car and wept. This was the single most depressing moment of my life and on March 28, 2011 I could not take it any more. I gave up.
Giving up is the most faithful action for those who believe in The Other. God was listening (always), and so began my soul’s slow and deliberate ascent from the depths and into the place of honor and beauty and love, balancing mind and body; taking control and guiding it’s destiny with it’s creator. It was as if the soul had woken from a long deep sleep and was ready to go and knew instantly what to do, that it was going to be difficult, that we were not alone, and somehow fueled a burning desire to get on with it and go. Everything was going to change and there was peace in knowing this; from preaching to experiencing others, to the way of viewing myself. So, a new doctor was sought who would be real with me with excruciating clarity and honesty. Professional help was looked into to change behaviors and patterns. More guidance from a life coach was wanted and did whatever he said and his firs recommendation was to get the book, You on a Diet: The Owners Manual for Waist Management (Michael F. Roizen MD, and Mehmet C. Oz MD; Free Press, NY, NY; revised and updated 2009). Prayer was asked from two trusted friends. Keeping a record of slimming began and my son took the beginning picture of my body. We watched Biggest Loser as a family on Tuesday. Kathy, the doctor, and life coach were the only three kept in the sacred loop of how much slimming was happening each week, and we decided to let these actions speak louder than words.
Give up and go was the inspiration from April - June. Kathy helped set a time in the mornings, and we adjusted schedules at work and home to allow for a workout every day except Sunday. The YMCA was our family’s place to go for working out. Following the book’s recommendation for eating right, as well as the doctor’s help in adjusting some eating plans for more protein and less carbs (am a carb junkie), increased energy and an overall healthier and positive feeling. The week of June 23, 2011 saw four amazing things happen. The size 40 pants did not fit anymore, had slimmed 23 pounds to a weight of 230, stopped snoring, and for only 33 days of exercise we clocked 24 hours, logged 122 miles and burned 17,500 calories. Kathy hugged me and said, “You’re disappearing!” The doctor had to change my blood pressure medication because at the previous dosage for a larger man it was causing the slimmer me to be dizzy so he cut it in half. The new BP was 122/74. Our children began noticing and celebrating the slender me with smiles and handshakes and hugs. Give up and go! You can do it. Now is your time.
Dr. Tom Lobaugh